By Erin Han, Oct. 18, 2022
Exploring outside the realms of his previous work, rapper Bladee’s newest release “Spiderr” reinforces his maturity as an avant-garde artist while treading toward a bubblier, pop-rock direction.
The Swedish rapper and producer released his eighth studio album Sept. 30 through label Year0001. Whitearmor, producer and fellow member of Bladee’s art collective Drain Gang, produced the majority of the album. Whitearmor’s unique synth arrangements, accompanied by the versatility of Bladee’s lyricism, breathe life into the album. Characterized by heavily autotuned and androgynous vocals, Bladee creates ethereal sounds reminiscent of a soundtrack to a dream.
The album opens with “UNDERSTATEMENT” which combines a buzzy bass line with bright 8-bit sound effects resembling a retro video game soundtrack. The track transitions into “ITS OK TO NOT BE OK”, a soft ballad accompanied by melodic strings and lyrics that remind listeners it is fine to hurt sometimes.
In an interview with The Fader magazine, Bladee reveals that in 2019 he was struck by lightning in Thailand, unable to go to a hospital. He perceives life differently after the near-death experience. His music following the incident explores themes of spirituality and revelation.
Bladee grows from experiences of hardship and lets go of feelings cathartically through music.
He acknowledges spiritual growth in lyrics of “BLUE CRUSH ANGEL,” expressing acceptance for his life experiences and the person he became.
“HAHAH” is a bouncy track with playful lyrics where Bladee laughs and repeatedly chants “I’m crazy,” as the first verse of the song. The song ends with him repeating the lyrics “I’m doing great,” a self-assuring response to the introduction. These elements paired with bright synthesizers make for an upbeat and catchy song. The track “Velociraptor” brings out the pop-rock elements of the album, featuring an energetic electric guitar riff and heavy bass.
The fifth track on the album “NOTHINGG” includes a hypnotizing vocal feature in Mongolian by Wondha Mountain. The backtrack consists of a mellow acoustic guitar riff and bright percussive elements resembling a kalimba or handpan drum. Percussive melodies are featured again in the album’s last track “URIEL OUTRO,” along with electric violin, creating a heavenly instrumental.
“She’s Always Dancing” is another meaningful ballad on the album with lyrics of a spoken love letter. The 8-bit video game sound effects featured in “UNDERSTATEMENT” are used again, this time in a melancholic arrangement, paired with a celestial harp.
Bladee and fellow Drain Gang collective members played at the Primavera Sound festival in Los Angeles and a sold-out pre-show at the Hollywood Palladium in September. Lucky fans got a first listen before the album’s release when Bladee performed the lead single “DRAIN STORY” at both sets.
Chaotic and offbeat, “DRAIN STORY” is an odd mishmash of sounds refusing to follow standards of conventional song structure. Presumed to be a teaser for the album, fans were fooled by Bladee to find out the rest of the track list sounds nothing like it. The lead single may not be the definitive track of “Spiderr” but it rather alludes to Bladee’s progression in style and experimentation.
“Spiderr” is Bladee’s first solo album of 2022, following “Crest,” an album co-released with frequent collaborator and fellow Drain Gang member Ecco2k in March. While the dream-pop sounds of “Crest” are easier to digest for a general audience compared to their earlier work, it split opinions of some long-time fans.
In the interview with The Fader, Bladee said fans are crazy about him and he does not understand it sometimes. Unfortunately, his cult-like fanbase subjects him to extreme idolization, which he references in the album’s fourth track “ICARUS 3REESTYLE.” In the lyrics, Bladee says he is not special, yet people still idolize him.
Bladee wants to break free from restrictions of genre and embraces genre-hopping with his music. He refuses to alter his style to appease others, even fans, and only creates music he genuinely likes. His music is an honest display of self-expression and demonstrates a rare form of sincerity, the indicators of a true artist.
Feature image courtesy of Jackson Gray
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